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tv   Washington Journal  CSPAN  May 30, 2011 7:00am-10:00am EDT

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katulis on current u.s. counterterrorism strategy in afghanistan. finally, fawn johnson, talk about the national highway trust fund and the role that oil and state gas tax is play in the funding. plus your e-mails, phone calls, and tweets. "washington journal" is next. [bell tolling] host: three years after the civil war ended in 1868, the head of an organization of union veterans, grand army of republic, and established -- to decorate the graves of war dead with flowers. john logan declared declaration day should be observed may 30.
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it is believed the date was chosen because flowers be in bloom over the country. decoration day would eventually become known as memorial day. first observance and 8068 in arlington national cemetery across the potomac river. we have a three-hour washington journal for you. in our first two segments we will devote time looking at military issues, specifically talking to generals in iraq and afghanistan. for your first 45 minutes, we will turn to a labor issues of sorts and get your input. specifically that of vacation time. it may have seen the poll the last couple of days conducted by reuters and also in conjunction with another firm looking at how people use their vacation times and if they take all of it. here is some of what was found in that poll. argentinian use 80% -- 80% of argentinian use all of their vacation days. hungarians, 70%, britain's, 77%.
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at the other end, japanese workers were least likely to use them -- only 33% would take all given. 47% in south america, 53 and south america and 57% in the united states saying they would take all their vacation times. there was also another study done on the issue of vacation days and american workers specifically use all of them. it is done by the center for economic and policy research. it was conducted in 2007 called "no vacation nation." one of the things they show is they take statistics as far as the vacation days and here is what some found.
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showing the breakdown on how other countries there as far as vacation days, making the point
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that in those countries they are federally obligated to paid vacation days mandated by various governments. united states not having such a mandate. with that in mind -- and we will look at other statistics -- we would to get your thoughts on vacation time and we are interested in finding out your use of vacation time, if you take all the days you are entitled. you may not get vacation time. here is how you can contribute this morning. for democrats --
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i mentioned a paid vacation holiday and other nations and this chart -- the group i just quoted -- show some of the obligated vacation times mandated by federal governments. in australia, for example, a statutory minimum annual leave is that four weeks. five weeks if you are a shift worker. seven paid holidays. canada, two weeks and three if he gets in the art -- security. eight fatalities. france, you get the 30 work days off -- the minimum required by the federal government -- with a paid holiday. in germany, 24 work days with up to 30 with those classified as young workers. as long -- along with 10 paid holidays. we will read a little bit more about a call perhaps on their part for federally mandated here in america as far as vacation time. you may notice that in the chart i just showed you at the very bottom, at the united states, when it comes to statutory
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minimum annual leave, that number is at 0. that is according to the research done by the center. but that in mind and labor issues over all. 57% of the workers say they use their vacation time. when to get your thoughts on what should be done about that -- should it be changed at the corporate level, a federal role, too? here is how you can do so -- the first call is dover, new hampshire. margaret on the independent line. caller: this just gives me a chance to share an experience i had many years ago. i went to work at a university as an administrator and a
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director said, okay, you've got a month's vacation. once understand how it works here. this is human resources. he says when you are on vacation, i do all of your work. i want you to come back to a clean desk. and when i am on vacation, i expect you to do my work so when i come back feeling refreshed and happy, i have a clean desk. i have not heard too many people in the world that do that and i just thought it is a great idea. he is now in his 90's and i am in my seven's. host: what do you think about vacation policy at all? the vacation that you received, do you take them all? caller: i did all of my life. i could afford to travel before i was 50 and now i can't so i am really glad -- like, one trip, when i worked for this man, i went to california and back and he said take the whole month and go to california.
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but i would like you to go to the tetons along the way, and i did. the other thing he said in terms of personnel policy is he said you actually have to -- you have the kind of worry about people don't take their vacation. especially if that are working in the accounting or bookkeeping office. something to be a little bit alert of the people never want to take a vacation. host: that is margaret from dover, new hampshire. twitter contributes this morning -- illinois. audrey on the democrats' line. caller: i just basically want to say, yesterday -- mentioning the percentage of people in the u.s. who don't take a vacation compared to other people
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overseas. i tell you, i think for those residing in the u.s., as those to the massive unemployment, people are afraid to take vacation because of job security. i have worked for years and even before 2010 or 2019 -- or 2009, i just enjoyed working and i was always afraid to leave because i did not want to end up behind in my work. that was another reason why. i think that people have a legitimate reason why. and i don't think employers make it easy for them to take off. host: what do you mean by that? ye caller: before, there is no trust. there is a lack of trust in the employer-employee relationship.
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one day all is fine and the next day you come into work and you did not have a job. people have to deal with that. i think it is all about job security. caller: -- host: do you find yourself taking all of your time or do you lose days are something like that? caller: i was recently laid off. so now, i am actually becoming self employed. i just parted a business and i am starting to focus a lot of energy there. that was one of the reasons why i decided to change and do something differently, is because of a lack all loyalty. -- lack of loyalty. i have been a part of the work force for over 20 years and one of the things i heard a lot of the workplace, people afraid to take off work because, again,
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you never know when you walk in and not have a job. host: illinois. fred from twitter says this -- san jose, california. cynthia, republican line. caller: i come from another position. we on a business and i am sick of hearing people calling in and talking about -- we own a business. we pay for all their health care and everything for them. my husband and i and our friends who own businesses have not had a vacation in four years. to keep -- we have paying for everybody's health insurance, everybody's problems. they got a headache, they don't come in. they get paid. all of our employees take a vacation and they take a paid vacation. if i take a vacation, i pay for my vacation. we have a handicapped daughter.
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i pay for all of for health care. i pay for oliver care. i am so -- all of her care. i am sick of these people telling what we need to do. they will get the america they deserve under this president who doesn't really know who is paying the bills. host: how much vacation you offer your employees? are you there? i think she left us. the next caller is hattiesburg, mississippi. independent line. caller: i think one thing that is skewed about this study that you got is that most companies give vacation time according to how long you have been there. younger workers tend to hop around more, don't stay as long. i know every company i work for either forced you to take vacation time or you got paid for it at the end of the year. i worked myself up to a management position when i had over a month and when i first
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started i had seven days. one problem i found is a lot of the employees wanted to take all of their vacation during the same time during the busiest time of the year. as far as the management of the salaried people getting more time -- generally because they have been with the company longer. host: from jody off of twitter -- new mexico. 57% of those who say they take all of their vacation time. on the democrats' line. thomas. go ahead with your thoughts. caller: i use all of my vacation time every year. i negotiated a contract when it came to work. my job was outsourced to indiana and ended up moving to new mexico. my home and wife and my family
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and are back in indiana. i use my three weeks vacation and i use it about 10 days at a time to fly back home and see my wife. that is just the nature of the beast. host: how is your employer when you take vacation time? is it a problem usually? pretty ok? caller: i negotiated a contract when it came out. i needed at least three weeks a year so i could get back home because there are certain things i have to take care of. i have a halt -- i have a hold back there, a wife, and certain things i have to do for the house and everything. that is what i use my vacation time for. vacation time is very important to myself and my wife and my family because i get to go back home and see them. the rest of the time i am out here working six days a week 10 hours a day. host: what do you think of the
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figure that witter's put it, as 57% taking all their vacation time. caller: i understand people -- people need the time to relax and get away from your work. the employers demand a lot more work from each individual these days because i guess you would say -- we are understaffed. most people are understaffed now. most companies on their staff and they work us harder every week -- understaff so the work thus harder away so they did not activate other employees' vacation time and health care and everything else. they keep the amount of the employees down. so, that is not a cost to them. host: jim has this off of twitter --
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alexandria, virginia on our republican line. julias, go ahead, please caller: actually i find the report to be very interesting as it talks about how infrequently -- i am surprised as large a percentage of americans who use vacation time. i am reminded of a quote that i cannot source unfortunately that says americans live to work and europeans work to live. i worked at a european embassy in d.c. at a time and i really know the difference. it seems as a national culture we do not necessarily have a vacation culture where we expect to go on vacations. it seems to be an american expectation that of course i would go to work every day. as long as i work, and so forth. i find it to be interesting. i do not know i favor any federally mandated laws, the
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number of vacation days, etcetera, as much as people are free to choose whether they go to work on not. but i do think it would be interesting if there was a larger movement -- a larger cultural appreciation of the importance of the workforce. but as interesting as the work force changes from an older generation, who aspired to find a company or a job and stay there until they retire, to a younger work force that has no real concept of that kind of employee or loyalty. i would consider myself in that generation. i cannot a imagine working at one place for -- for 30 years in my life. host: a couple more articles from the papers that we will go through. if you want to weigh and still on the idea of 57% of the workers using the vacation time,
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the numbers on your screen and you can join us by e-mail or twitter, too. an op-ed about memorial day. florida. democrats' line. caller: thank you for letting me
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call in. i always watch c-span and yelling in my television set and i get to talk to you personally. i really appreciate it. host: go right ahead. caller: i think the reason why americans don't take leave time has to do with a lot to do with the u.s. history of human slavery and the nonexistence of sharing of prosperity in the american culture. it seems as though true prosperity is only going to a very few and a lot of us are working so hard to produce in this prosperity for the few. and of course, the fear of losing jobs and maybe even our pluralistic cultural society really doesn't have a culture of having a common sharing. it is evident in the workplace.
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so, i really think that after visiting south korea for just a short time, i saw this unity of community and a unity of culture, with the commonality among its people that helps to give the people a common sense of relaxation and a common sense of having free time and community. host: scott king off of twitter -- tallahassee, florida. independent line. caller: good morning, pedro. my company just switched to the paid time off system for 2011. what it means is that we have to use all of our vacation now by
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the end of the year. if we don't, we lose it. last year they told us they would be converting to this policy and they encouraged us to use whatever vacation we had and if we didn't use it by the end of 2010, they gave us a check for it in january. i had 200 hours at the time and i wanted to keep my 200 hours because i was afraid that if i got laid off i would not have any money, but if i had 200 hours of vacation i would at least have had a couple of months of paid to live off of. but now they make us use everything or lose it. it is called paid time off. all of our six days and vacation are in one category, which they call paid time off. under the old system we got our vacation accrued, + 106 days but not everything is called paid time off. host: you don't like the new
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system? caller: no, because i like to roll over vacation. under the old system i have enough service time where i could bank at least 200 hours. no matter what. whether it was current year or previous year. i could always maintained 200 hours and my account but now we can't do that. we have to use everything by december 31. host: thank you for the june bidding this morning. we talked initially, comparing other countries about how they mandate vacation time and wanted to see your thoughts on that. saying this -- amarillo, texas. james. caller: how are you doing this morning? host: i was just calling to say it does not matter who is in the white house. everybody likes to blame barack -- jobs are just not there. i take every day i can.
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have a good one. host: "money magazine" did this poll looking at various places of work, the top of vacation -- as far as vacation purchases were concerned. to google, employees get 15 days during their first year, 20 days after four va -- four years, 25 after six years. some of the tech cos. intuit, full-time employees qualify for up to five weeks of vacation time. that depends on the life of their tenure. looking at st. jude research hospital, it says that the company established a vacation time bank. new jersey.
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republican line. richard. caller:hi, -- hi, pedro. i wanted to make a comment that a lot of people who have just been recently employed, which it appears to be a higher percentage of population, likely to see if they can carry over their vacation just for a little cushion in case the old job doesn't work out. but i had been on a job hunt recently, and what i have seen where the paid days off trend and also have seen but typically made careers they would give you three weeks of vacation or so -- mid-career. host: do you think it is a policy the federal government should take up? caller: i don't think this is a policy the federal government should take up. they need to minimize their involvement in our lives.
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host: a couple of other stories. if you want to weigh in on what we are talking about this morning -- the president in joplin, missouri yesterday. the photos. also appearing at a memorial service as well. here is the story -- as you look at the picture. the role of the cheap -- chief comforter, has become familiar ground for mr. obama. last month he toward similar devastation after twister's hit tuscaloosa, alabama, and offered similar encouragement. he did the same for flood victims along the mississippi. omaha, nebraska, is next. republican line. caller: i have been a single parent of most of the 20 years that i have been a nurse.
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and my profession we pretty much have paid time off protocol for vacation days. and i can tell you i have never actually taken a vacation. as a single parent, my vacation days were used for my children as far as any time they were in the hospital, any time they were sick. that is where my vacation went. i just am appalled that the federal government thinks this is one more matter that they need to step been in and regulate. it is just unbelievable to me that our government thinks they could step in and do this. host: just so you know, they have not made any policy as far as this is concerned. there was a report that a look at other nations that made vacation time mandatory policy and we wanted to get fox from people whether the federal government should be involved --
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when it defaults from people. but there have been no formal policy statements. caller: and i think it is absolutely wonderful that you are asking for opinions from the public just to see how we feel about this. but i think it is ridiculous that they are even considering such a thing. they have stepped in in many areas -- we are supposed to be a free society and not a socialist as government. host: bismarck, north dakota. caller: i think vacation is something that people need to have and use on their own. some people use it to supplement short-term disability if they get hurt, and if they can bank it it is to help them through tough times if they get hurt. maybe not everybody has the same health insurance, disability insurance and stuff. i think it is something everybody has to use and bank
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and control on their own personal needs for their family. host: "the washington post" takes a look at insourcing in the pentagon.
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goes on to talk about that, but you can find a story and "the washington post" this morning. milwaukee, wisconsin. peter. caller: peter from milwaukee, wisconsin. military. just call -- calling about the leave. we get 30 days a year. take about four -- i take about 1425 days -- 14 to 25 days but that is a good idea especially for military personnel to take leave as you can. yet some much going on that you have to take leave when you can. those are my comments for the day. at the memorial day to all the veterans out there. host: maryland, independent line.
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caller: i just wanted to comment on the fact that in many of the countries that you are talking about that have vacation time, they have socialized medicine. so, the employers do not have to pay out for their hospitalization and medical care. so, it makes it easier for employers to allow their workers to take vacation. i just thought maybe that should be taken into consideration. host: should there be federal policy? caller: absolutely not. federal government is in too much of our business as it is. it host: and another message -- a tcan always send us weet. we will continue on what we want to take a few moments to let you
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know about announcement that will be made this morning that affects the defense department. the president expected to announce that army general martin dempsey will be nominated to serve as the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. as admiral mike mullen is set to retire october 1. stories about general dempsey appeared in papers yesterday. currently the army chief of staff. joining us to give perspective to giveoliveri from "congressional reporter." can you tell us why this choice of general dempsey, what he brings to the table? guest: he is an interesting character. he has been through the fires of iraq and most recently a commanding general at the u.s. army training and -- command. a lot of lessons learned from iraq that he was beginning to
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apply throughout before us from 2008 to 2011 that he was bringing to the military. he was only just recently confirmed to the army chief of staff. this is a little bit of a surprise move. putting in through the whole confirmation process -- but from all the reports have seen he is the kind of guy we need right now. there will be major decisions, some force structure concerns, dealing with a significant personnel costs. all of these things are things he is quite well suited to address. host: when is the last time we had an army chiefs of staff as the joint chiefs? guest: i believe general shall then it -- sheldon. almost a decade since the army had an officer heading up the joint chiefs. host: as far as the day-to-day
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duties, tell us what the general will face? it decisions about force structure. can you give insights specifically about what the general will have to do? guest: he will have to face questions, along with leon panetta, who will be nominated as defense secretary. they are facing significant rising cost of health care in the military, as we all are across society. but in the military as become a significant growth problem in cost. significant problems with the modernization of the forces. fewer dollars available -- as he might have noticed, the economy has not done so well and there are fewer dollars available for defense and they still need to modernize the force. the army itself has not had a new weapon system, online, a new major weapons systems, online, since the 1980's. this is a problem across the military. the air force with aging
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aircraft. the navy with the need to increase the size of its ships or the number of its ships. there is a significant problem. plus, the questions are reshaping the military. there is a global posture review coming in, and clearly the general will have to play at significant role. then the questions of a drawdown and afghanistan -- when and how deeply that the drawdown will begin. host: what kind of relations does the general have with the president. guest: i think the general has a really strong relationship with the present. he is seen as a strong strategist. the game -- came with the support of current secretary of defense gates and chief mullen and as a result he is a very thoughtful guy and probably exactly the type of guy they want right now. host: what kind of baggage does he bring? guest: it is difficult. he is stepping in a role that, to be perfectly honest, people
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felt he was the perfect guy to beat to the army chief of staff. the army base is probably the most significant challenges. and there were a lot of people who wish he would have stayed in that role. the marine corps general was very, very close to the president and many thought he would step into the job. personnel type issues with the general, i believe, leading to him not getting that position and they had to scramble to place this officer. host: anything else we should know about the general that maybe it has not been put out to public consumption already? guest: he was commander of forces at the time when iraq had turned really bad. he was in baghdad in 2003, 2004, 2005 time frame when things were quite difficult and he was forced -- at first, he was bringing art to bear and certainly he was being told to
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hold ground and protect people over a hump -- _ miles. it was a completely different kind of mission, one that challenged him. he would tell you that it was a particularly difficult time. 1 things he thought was very important, one of the lessons learned was the need to develop the military leadership. in our new environment, new warfare, you needed to be more adaptive and nimble addressing the threats. one of the reasons he is a particularly interesting character to pick at a time when we are reshaping the military. host: confirmation expected from this choice? guest: he had an easy time going through as army chief of staff. i don't expect you would have a problem with his appointment. host: frank oliveri from "congressional quarterly." have a memorial day. guest: same to you.
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host: you can see the announcement live at 10:00 on c- span and if you miss it you can catch it later on and our website, but the announcement will take place live at 10:00. for the remainder of our time together we are still asking people about vacation time. 50% of workers say they use vacation time. we are getting thoughts to the federal government or either state government should have a role mandating these kinds of things as we have seen in comparison to other countries. kentucky, democrats' line. thanks for waiting. caller: good morning, pedro. i am delighted to get to speak to you. a pleasure and an honor. you are a very kind gentlemen and you handle the situation very well. i think that a vacation time should be mandatory. i am 81 years old and the only time that i was able to take trips to europe was when i was employed because i have the money to do so than.
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since retirement, my travels are curtailed because it usually on a fixed income and unless you were very fortunate and the stock market was going in the right direction, you could not afford to travel. i think it is mandatory. i think it should be mandatory. everyone needs renewal. no one is irreplaceable. i felt very sad for the woman who was crying that she and her neighbors who owns this -- they have not had a vacation for four years. they are in the wrong business. they should sell the business to someone it with a better attitude who would allow the employees the authorities to take over in her absence. she would be rejuvenated and come back with a different perspective. thank you so much for allowing me to voice my opinion. host: phoenix, arizona. greg on the independent line.
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caller: with all that we are facing worldwide -- there should be some kind of regulation. but not so much making people take vacation. making jobs making fake -- vacations available to employees. a long time ago, i remember, you had to wring their necks to get a vacation hour. sometimes the people have it well-off, were doing the good. criticizing about people taking vacations that work in the lower rungs of the scale. but everybody should have a vacation. maybe everybody would call out a little better. that is my comment -- maybe everybody would cool out for a little bit. host: i believe employers should be mandated by the government's offer vacation time, however, i believe the employees should be allowed to use the vacation time as they see fit. if they want to use it yearly or if they want to say that up and
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case they need it later on. but definitely the government will have to take a more roll regulating business. i find it amazing people worried about the government having a role, but this is the centennial of the triangle factory fire and that is an example that what happens when the government does not stand and -- you know, last year we have the west virginia coal mining disaster and they failed -- found where the person in charge of that mine basically let the safety rules go for the sake -- sake of production. for people -- people would like it to go back 100 years ago, and the of the mercy of their employers, you are welcome to it. but i want our government to step in and regulate these businesses because they have become greedy. host: caucus section of "the new york times" talks about seeing the advantage in dealing a
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solution. a story about medicare by john harwood -- the top figures today on the sunday shows. minority leader mitch mcconnell. -- it was the topic yesterday on the sunday shows. >> we all know medicare is going to change. it's got to change. david, the trustees of medicare and social security appointed by
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the president of the united states and includes members of his own cabinet just said a couple of weeks ago that medicare is going broke. one thing we know we can't do is nothing and our democratic friends in the senate have no plan at all. the president, to his credit, is at the table discussing with us the way in which you save medicare. medicare is going down, doing nothing. it is not a plan. and we are going to negotiate the concourse of the plan in these negotiations. i am personally very comfortable with the way paul weiss and wood structure it in the out years, but we have a democratic president. -- i uncomfortable with the way paul ryan would structure it. host: another story from "the washington post." if muammar gaddafi bang ever need a legal defense team at the hague, he may already have his men --
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knoxville, iowa. you are next. caller: am i on the air? host: i just want to say, if i've got a small business, like a tire repair place or a small engine repair -- you know, they don't need to be coming in and telling me how to run my business with vacations and what not. but if you are a big business, it corporation or whatever, with a big government contracts --
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yes, the government should go ahead and have some regulation about how you run a -- your time off for people. i would just want to go ahead and make one more point being memorial day and everything. in this country does not need the greedy rich anymore than we needed british in colonial america. these greedy rich ought to just go ahead and pack up their tax breaks and get the out of here -- hell out of here. host: that is the last call. there is an op-ed concerning the condition of the national mall. john eckridge, with the trust for the national mall. he serves as the chairman. ed at the to the op- moment, but as far as the conditions, what your concerns? guest: about 30 years' worth of
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underfunding by congress, there for about $400 million of maintenance. in addition to that, visitors have spiked up to the point where there are over 30 million people who visit this a year. only 770 acres. the of the structure is not sufficient to handle that load of people. many of the pad is and what ways are too narrow. -- paths and walkways are too narrow. it is a disgrace. host: some of that -- you say it is replete with cracked sidewalks, of broken lights and threadbare lawn. the tidal basin seawall that protect the jefferson and roosevelt memorial and assume that martin luther king memorial has suffered so drastically, swamp the daily by the tides. is this all because of foot
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traffic and the influence of people in the area? guest: a lot of it is due to traffic and a lot due to maintenance. it is real property that needs to mean -- be maintained over time and has not been properly maintained. they have not had the funding to probably take care of it. host: how much is allotted for maintenance and upkeep and how much is needed? guest: about triple what is available. i think $30 million a year is allocated. host: as far as the decisions on what upkeep is made, who makes the decision and what goes into deciding what it sticking care of first? guest: the park service just completed a four-year comprehensive planning study to determine exactly that. it is a big, comprehensive document. 850 pages.
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firstly to think about a park -- you consider 30 million people visit the space. there are only -- over 3000 permits it event on the mall every year. it gets to be a very complicated management exercise. all of those parties have been essentially set out the priorities have been set out in the planning document, not in great detail, but general format. host: how many people are expected to be in the mall area this memorial day weekend? guest: i do not know the answer to that question. host: as far as the trust for the national mall is concerned, what is that and if people want it more information, web can they turn? guest: 501 c3 organization, an
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agreement with the national park service to raise private funds to supplement the federal budget to improve and restore and maintain the mall. people can find out more about us possibly going to on the web, and they can find out ways that they can help, both in terms of making contributions but also in terms of volunteer opportunities. host: john eckridge as amerigas -- if you want to read his thoughts about the national mall, it can go to "the washington times." the op-ed section -- embarrassing national mall, crumbling, threadbare memorials and insult to history. our first two segments devoted to issues in iraq and afghanistan. joining us will be representatives from both of those locations. first major general jeffrey buchanan with the forces and iraq, serving as shtick -- director.
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we will have that conversation when we come back. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> policies and's "washington journal" on twitter and joining viewers to get advance notice of guests, and links to video clips and key program highlights. you can also tweet your questions and comments to the conversation. don't miss any updates. start your twitter account today at >> the c-span video library makes it easy to follow campaign 2012. click on the tab and get instant access to advance from announced and potential presidential candidates. all searchable, share rubble and free. the peabody award winning c-span video library, it is washington your way. >> you are watching c-span, bringing you politics and public
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affairs. every morning is "washington journal," are live call-in program connecting you with elected officials, policy-makers and journalists. weekdays, live coverage of the u.s. house and weeknights, congressional hearings and policy forms, and supreme court oral arguments. on weekends, "the communicators" and sundays, newsmakers, q&a, and prime ministers questions. it also watched the programming any time at and it is all searchable and arce's been video library. a public service credit by america's cable companies. new america foundation's senior fellow on the effect of the internet on free speech in areas like china and the middle east. >> on the one hand you have an exposure of internet use, you have all kinds of social networking sites and a lot of
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blogging going on, but at the same time the government manages to control it well enough to prevent people from using the internet to organize opposition. >> tonight on "the communicators" on c-span2. "washington journal" continues. host: joining us from baghdad, major-general jaffe -- jeffrey buchanan with the strategic aspects director. thank you for joining us. first, can you give us the scope of what troops in iraq are doing current day? guest: thank you for having me on the program, pedro. we have about 46,000 troops -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguard, as well as other government civilians that are serving in iraq. under operation new dawn, we performed three tasks on the military side for stability operations, which is our focus.
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our first task is to advise, train, as is, and equipped the iraqi security forces. our second task is to conduct counterterrorism operations. and the third task is to support and protect the civilian workers that come from the embassy as they work in the civil capacity throughout the country. host:, to start with, as far as the security forces your training, are they ready to go on their own? guest: pedro, iraqi security forces have had the lead for internal security throughout the country since last summer. the total now is 650,000 troops, a little over 400,000 in the ministry of interior forces, which includes the police, the federal police and border enforcement troops. and about 250,000 and counterterrorism forces and ministry of defense forces, which includes the army, navy,
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and the air force. so, they have had the lead for security. they have been doing an incredible job. the level of violence is a fairly steady at has been down -- it is down to less than 10% of what it was, say, in 2007. this does not mean they did not have room for growth, that they did not need additional help, and we are determined to give them the help we can as long as we are here. host: specifically what kind of help do they need? guest: i will give you a couple of examples. and some of these related to both internal security but some also relate to the external defense requirements. that is where they probably need of the most development. first of all, the iraqi security forces have had the fastest growing security forces of military in the world over the last years. additionally, they have had the highest of what we call the op-
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tempo, the number of troops actually deploy. they have built a very good counter insurgency force -- in my opinion, the best in the entire region. but they do have some gaps they need help with. three in particular our intelligence, sustainment -- or the ability to maintain the equipment they have and perform logistical functions -- and then the last one relates more to the external defense requirements, but it is about the ability to integrate all of the effects of combined arms. infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, air force aircraft -- bringing them all together on the point on the battlefield. something they may have to do for external the fence but what they have not had to do for the insurgency. host: the major-general joining us and so 8:30 to talk about iraq. if you want to ask questions, here are the numbers --
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we have set aside a special line for iraq vets -- because of the delay involved in talking with the major general, when you are told to ask your question a statement, go ahead and do that. it will keep the conversation flowing. once again in the queue, go ahead and make your statements and comments when you have a chance and then we would get the general to respond. major general, as far as the counter-terrorism efforts, what happens at the end of the year in terms of current forces in iraq and the current counter- terrorism efforts that are going on? guest: our two countries signed a bilateral century agreement in 2008, and that agreement
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established conditions for the u.s. forces to continue to operate in iraq through 2009, 2010, and 11. we lived up to every single acquirement under our bilateral security agreement. but one of the arctic -- articles, one of the requirements, includes the mandate that u.s. forces transition completely to a civilian-led authority by the end of 2011. we are on track to do that completely. but this does not mean, however, that the united states is not going to live a very strong relationship with iraq. much of our relationship will be governed by the civilian relationship led by ambassador jim jeffries and his team. things like police professionalism asian, that has been a military responsibility since 2003, is now shifting to a responsibility under the embassy and the bureau for international narcotics and law enforcement. on the military side, we intend to maintain a very strong military.
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the military relationship three things like joint training exercises, as well as maintenance of -- educational exchanges, and those sorts of things. host: what is the chance that the mission as far as military would be extended? guest: well, it has been communicated a number of times to the leadership of the government of iraq and they are just now taking on this very serious debate. as the iraqi people and the leadership of the iraqi government determines specifically where do they need help and what do they want to ask us for, the military leaders are coming forward with what you might call a readiness assessment. they are establishing the capabilities and limitations of their forces and helping provide that to civilian leaders of the country, who will then take a look at strengths and weaknesses, compare them to what they see as current or future
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threats, and then make decisions on where they are vulnerable and how they might mitigate the risks that they see. if in going through the process that they decide they want to continue help from the u.s. military, they continue to ask. our government, as communicated by a number of our leaders, would seriously consider any request that the iraqi government makes. to my knowledge, they have not yet made such a request. host: that it remains stable -- guest: i really cannot speculate. it depends on all sorts of things. stability is more than just the provision of security. that absence of violence does not necessarily mean stability.
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all sorts of things related, including economic development and capacity. the nature of ethnic and religious conflict, whether or not they are able to answer and maintain a strong dialogue to work out their differences, to ensure that all parts of the government are connected, from the national level down to the provincial and local level. but as far as the security goes, i think the iraqi security forces have made tremendous gains. they are on the right track. i still have room for improvement. we are determined to help them as much as we possibly can. and i feel very good about where they are headed. i think if we maintain a strong partnership, whether u.s. forces are here or not, then we will be able to help them well into the future. host: phone calls are lined up for you, general, so we will start. and those who are calling, once you're told to do so, go ahead with your question of common and leave it at -- at that of the
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general can respond. texas, republican line. go ahead. caller: good morning, everyone. may i please say to our guest this morning, thank you, sir, for your service to our country. it is memorial day and all of us out here are mindful of all of the blood and treasure we have spent to preserve our great country. which makes me often confused as i find it supremely ironic that, in spite of the sacrifice we have made to preserve our great country, our politicians are busy surrendering our national sovereignty to mexico. host: next call is from -- go ahead, sir. guest: could i say something?
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first of all, i want to comment on what then said, being that it is memorial day. it is very important for us in iraq and overseas to all remember the tremendous sacrifices of all our servicemen and women over the years who have given us all the opportunities that we really enjoy. as a service member who served a number of tours in iraq, i have lost a lot of good friends, both iraqi and american. but i do have to say that i do not think any of those sacrifices have been in vain. we have made a tremendous difference for people, we have made a tremendous difference for our country. i am not exactly sure how it is going to turn out. history will judge that. but we have given them a very powerful opportunity for the future, and so i'm hopeful that it will work out the way it absolutely should. host: waterloo, nebraska.
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jeffrey, go ahead. caller: thank you so much for the opportunity, and i will be brief. general, i was in the 82nd airborne division in 2004. we had them locked down tight for their elections and then we moved into solder city. -- into sadr city. good luck to you and your men in the airborne, sir. guest: thanks, jeffrey. i served with the 82nd but it was quite a while ago, 1983- 1985. a great outfit with a tremendous history, and you are part of that history. the one thing i would like to say is sometimes we forget the changes over the years. you would not recognize baghdad, you would not recognize the green zone or the international zone. one thing you would not recognize about it is the iraqi
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security forces are firmly in the league. they have complete responsibility for security of the green zone, as they do for sadr city. so what you need to know, though, is you helped plant the seeds for the success we are enjoying today. your sacrifices over the years have added up and have really made the difference. host: louisville, kentucky, democrats line. caller: first of all, major, i would like to thank you and all the servicemen who have sacrificed for our country. the next thing i would like to say -- approximately how long did it take for us to really trained some of the people over there, you know, in afghanistan and iraq? next thing, i want everybody to remember, when our servicemen
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come home, they come first. no matter what we do, we are going to have to give everything -- all americans -- we cannot forget what they have done, and we need to give them every -- i do not care what it is, volunteer work, whatever -- just go talk to them. babysit, do everything. just do not pretend like they are back and we are going to celebrate that they are back. host: go-ahead, major general. guest: thanks, jenny. i think it was jenny from louisville. i appreciate your support. i cannot tell you what it means, what sort of feeling of pride you have when you're in the military and you walk through an airport and people come up and pat you on the back. it's tremendously powerful. but do not forget our families either. our families sacrifice every bit
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as much as we do, and their sacrifices over the years have really enabled us to get the job done. i took it for granted. i am now in my fourth tour in iraq. i took for granted all along until i had a son deployed to iraq, and he is now in afghanistan. just to see what families go through, it makes an incredible difference. you asked how long it takes to train the iraqi troops. i cannot speak for afghanistan, but as far as the iraqis go, giving them the basic knowledge required to fight an insurgency , the blocking and tackling, that can be done in a relatively short amount of time. we started this effort with the new iraqi army in the summer of 2003. i think the more important aspect is the professional
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ization in both the officer corps and the noncommissioned officer court that takes years to develop the kind of leadership that we think that the iraqi soldiers, basic iraqi soldiers deserve. when they look at our military, what sets us apart from most of the other militaries in the world is the tremendous professionalism of our non- commissioned officer corps. they see what our sergeants do when they're given the freedom to make decisions. they get what we call commander 's intent or commission orders. they typically are not told exactly how to do it and they are the free -- they are free to do what they need to do to get it done. the iraqis see that, they want that sort of relationship, but it takes years and years of development for their leadership. host: general, jim hines from
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twitter asks for what he calls a frank assessment on troop morale. guest: our troop morale is very high. i think i mentioned the numbers. we have had a little bit less than 50,000 troops here since the change from operation iraqi freedom to new dawn. we have a lot of work to do. because we have a lot of work to do, our men and women are very busy. when they are busy and they can actually see the benefit of their labor, they see the difference made in a unit. they see the difference made when they are even delivering logistical supplies or protecting our own forces. that reinforces their sense of value and all of the contributions that they make. i mentioned a little bit earlier that we all enjoy tremendous support from everybody back home.
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on a holiday, you get christmas packages, labeled "to any soldier." regardless of what people thought about whether or not we should be involved in iraq, the men and women of the united states have supported us all along the way, and that has led to an maintained a very high sense of morale. host: on our line from lancaster, california. go ahead. caller: good morning, general. i was calling with a question for the man in power for iraq. i have not been deployed in a while. i'm trying to see if we are where the u.s. wants it. what advice do you have four servicemen looking to deploy in a zone such as iraq?
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guest: well, one thing that has changed over the last eight years is that our military has looked increasingly at both the national guard and reserve as an operational reserve rather than a strategic reserve. in other words, in order to enable all the active forces to operate, we have to work together on one team with our brothers and sisters. it is required for us to be able to conduct operations, but at the same time, that ensures a higher manning level, a higher equipping rate with modernized equipment for our reserve forces. what i would say is there is plenty of opportunity to deploy if that in fact is what you're looking for. the need, whether it is here in iraq or in afghanistan, or in other environments to include those that are supporting
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humanitarian assistant missions throughout the world, even for example in africa. the need is out there. stick with it. i want to thank you for your service. i know that service as a reservist can often be hard, but your contributions are very much appreciated. host: is army personnel involved in rebuilding structures that are deployed? guest: we have been rebuilding structures that have been deployed -- that have been destroyed dating back to 1991. as well as those that have been destroyed by the terrorists. but we also think even more importantly are helping provide a more resilient said of infrastructure throughout the country. this goes from medical clinics to the agricultural industry. dams, bridges, electrical
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systems, the u.s. army corps of engineers has been involved in every step of the way. the military has been involved. usaid, a number of different organizations under the in the district of the administration have been involved. host: sarasota, florida, is next. a call for major general jeffrey buchanan. go ahead. caller: hi, general. my wife and i testified in front of congress on behalf of the military people. i served in the marine corps the 1960's. you can google our name. it is carl and mary sheldon, s- h-e-l-d-e-n, but you have to
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spell the entire name out. when we testified on from of cut -- in front of congress on the behalf of the american people and the united states, we testified against civil asset forfeiture. there is a large difference of us that have served in the services to what the politicians do in this country. we moved to sarasota, florida, from san francisco after we testified. we have had three attempted murders on our lives here they found out about who we are through our sun's divorce. his wife ran her mouth off about our suit against the government and we are out about $600,000. my question to the general is why is there such a vast difference of us still being up
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for the constitution and being treated very differently under the civil asset forfeiture law. guest: thank you, carl. general? guest: you know, i do not have much expertise in this area, but i thank you for your service. you're welcome to stand up for what you think is right. if i could just for a second, i want to talk about something that we have seen here over the years with respect to democracy. this is an important thing for all of us to learn from. i think as a typical american, i have taken over the years the responsibilities that democracy brings as well as the rights -- i have had a tendency overtime
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to take it for granted. but when you see it start from ground zero like we have in iraq over the years and you start understanding things like democracy is a heck of a lot more than just being able to vote for somebody, but it brings with it a sense that the people are really responsible for the government, and the government is accountable to the people, i think that is very powerful. i think the iraqi government is learning that over time, and they have learned from watching their other neighbors throughout the region in what might be called the arab spring. what they're learning as they are dealing with protesters, how do they listen to the people, how do they understand that they have a right and a responsibility to speak up, and how does the government ensure that it is in fact accountable to the people? host: louisville, kentucky, on our independent line, is next. caller: yes, sir. i would like to ask two questions. one, what are we doing to win
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the hearts and minds of the afghan and iraqi people? two, have we got something akin to the marshall plan for when we do finally leave iraq and afghanistan? host: think you, sir. guest: well, the first question -- i think over the years we have work on establishing a certain level of trust between the iraqi people and ourselves. even more importantly, what we have built up is a very strong sense of trust and a bond between us and the iraqi security forces. what we are hoping is that they get the same sort of respect and admiration and support of their security forces that the american people have of us as american service members. we see that increasing every step of the way. i think that, to address your
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second question, it also dovetails in with the first one. our two countries, iraq and the united states, signed, in addition to a bilateral security agreement, they signed a strategic framework agreement. they did that at the same time in 2008. it aspires to enduring partnership between iraq and the united states, and it establishes the conditions for cooperation in a wide variety of areas, everything from education to science and technology, agriculture, economic development, assistance with governance, as well as defense and security operation. but it is through the sense of cooperation and partnership that is governed by this agreement, led by the embassy here, that we will have a strong relationship with the iraqi people. i think it is true that that we can help them reach what they deserve, which is a country that is stable, sovereign, and self-
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reliant. such a state would be good for the iraqi people, the entire region, and with the united states. host: president is expected today to say that he wants general martin dempsey to become the next joint chiefs of staff. do you have any thoughts on this appointment? guest: i think general dempsey -- i think the world of him. i worked for him in 2005 and 2006. he is a soldier's soldier, but at the same time he is a student of leadership. he focuses all the way at the lowest level at a squad and is able to go well into the future and bring the entire force into the leadership that it needs. admiral mullen has done a phenomenal job. if in fact general dempsey is nominated and confirmed, i think he would do a great job as well.
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host: what do you think he brings as far as future conflicts we may engage in, especially in afghanistan and iraq? guest: think he brings his own leadership experience here, deployed to iraq a number of times. he has a great sense of culture. i cannot speak for general dempsey, but let me say one thing that i have learned here over the years. i think that early on, when i go back to where we were in 2003, our hearts were always in the right place, but sometimes we made mistakes. when i look at a lot of those mistakes we made, we really did not have an understanding, a firm understanding across the force of the culture of the people in whose country we were operating in. and you obviously cannot divorce your combat operations or stability operations from the
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population. they are a very important consideration. you saw this alive and well when we changed tactics in 2007 with the surge. the primary purpose of our forces was to protect the people. based on that, we have learned that we need to be students of culture, not just the country -- the culture of the country and where we are going to operate, but our own. that helps us remove some of the underlying assumptions about how we might normally operate, and it will help us be effective wherever we may go. i think general dempsey brings that sort of insight. host: our guest, general jeffrey buchanan, is the iraqi strategic effects director. lincoln, nebraska, republican line. sam, go ahead.
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caller: good afternoon there in iraq, and i would like to thank you for your service and what you're doing. the media in this country is trying to make the muslims and the arabs are the enemy of the united states. while you are living in iraq and seeing those iraqi people, the muslims, can you tell us in general, the majority of the people, how they think about the united states? you listen to the media in this country just really bad mouth the muslims and the arabs. even the congress of united states, which we elect, they make the muslims out to be very bad when you are dealing with those people, are they really that bad? thank you for your service again. guest: sam, the first thing i
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can say is that i think that anytime anybody tries to generalize about other people, they are usually lead it into a difficult situation. generalizations about groups of people lead to things like prejudice. i think that over the years, we have certainly respected our iraqi brothers and sisters, we have learned from them. i have lost a lot of good friends who are iraqi military or police commandos over the years, and they are patriots, they are fighting and dying for this country. they love their families. but i have not seen any reason why any group of people should be characterized the way you just described. they are tremendously patriotic, and they love their people and they love their family. host: waterbury, connecticut,
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democrats line. good morning. caller: good morning, general. can you hear me? guest: i can. caller: great. this is an odd question, but i was watching c-span, the british television network in the world. i was watching about the senate oversight, how they're telling military contractors how they are committing crimes in iraq, in afghanistan, and actually our military contractors, there are more of them in iraq than troops. they are outnumbered. the second question i have, what do you think about war profiteering? thank you. guest: i did not get the second part of the question. what do i think about -- host: war profiteering.
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guest: ok, i got it. first of all, let me talk about the contract. as of today, we have about 62,000 contractors in iraq and about 46,000 service members. so to answer his question, he is absolutely right. currently in iraq today, we have more contractors and service members. but the vast majority of them are not doing security work, they are doing things like driving trucks for logistical , providing cooking, laundry support, and all these sorts of things. a number of them are performing security, perimeter security around our bases. in all, what that does is it enables the military forces, frees them up so they do not have to perform security, wash
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the laundry, cooking in the mess hall, these kinds of things, but can actually perform our tasks that i talked about earlier, number one, to be advising training, equipping, and assisting the iraqi security forces. only some of these contractors are performing security work. there is a small portion that are american citizens, and i want to thank all of them for their service. and then there is a number of them, the majority either what we call a third country nationals. we have a high number of truck drivers from other countries, for example, or even iraqi citizens. and so, you know, in this particular case, i think that they are necessary to help us be more efficient and more effective in how we operate. host: harrisonburg, virginia, democrats line.
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go-ahead. caller: general, i have a question i would really like to have answered. in your point of view, and only your point of view, if we were left iraq today, pulled everybody out, what do you think what happened to iraq? guest: i cannot speculate in total what would happen, but i think the iraqi security forces who we are focused most closely with, i think the iraqi security forces would be a heck of a lot more capable if we left today than if we leave in accordance with our plan at the end of the year. we work with them every single day. as one example, we have a training program where we are focused on the basics of offensive and defensive tactics. we have a battalion from four in iraqi army divisions that come out of current operations every single month, and we help them
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develop a significant capability that they have not had. every month we take four battalions through this. that is leading toward a situation where they will be far more self-sufficient in the future. i think certainly as far as the security forces go, they will be better off with an additional six months of partnerships than if we were to leave today. host: what kind of celebrations take place today because of memorial day? what do the troops get? guest: well, pedro, this is a work day for us like all 364 other days in a year. but we do take the opportunity to mark the occasion. today i was able to attend a prayer breakfast at the embassy, where we had service members, but most of the people were
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members of the u.s. mission of iraq, representing justice, commerce, department of state, and a number of other federal agencies. we talked about a number of things, and we took the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. i spoke about a friend of mine who is an iraqi police commando, very good friend, a very selfless servant of his country, and he and i went through a lot together in 2005 and 2006. unfortunately, he gave the ultimate sacrifice. but i think, you know, all of these sacrifices have added up to an opportunity where iraq really is on the right road. for all of the listeners and viewers who have served over here before, especially if they were here early on in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, you would not
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believe the level of progress throughout the country. they all played a very strong role in that. unfortunately, some of them gave their lives, and i do not think we can ever do enough to recognize the sacrifice that they have made. just one brief comment. i was thinking today of a friend of mine, staff sergeant david paterson, i served with in 2004, over here in iraq. every day that i go into the embassy, his name is on a plaque because he served over here as an army reservist. he demobilized, went back, and joined a security firm and then came back and was killed in 2005, leaving behind a very loving family. it is sacrifices like his that had helped keep our country safe all the way since the middle of the 1700's.
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and they have helped give the iraqis a chance to have the opportunities that they deserve. host: one more call for the general. columbia, maryland, the independent line. joe? caller: good morning, general. how are you doing? guest: i'm doing great, joe. caller: i do not think the american people understand how much courage it takes to fight a war. i think they take it for granted. i think you so much for fighting for this country. i spent the whole time in the jungle. i want to say one thing to you. there's a place called veterans during home. look at, and they will help them get through whatever they are going through.
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host: general, if you can talk about the preparation that soldiers get before coming home from a war. go ahead. joe, first of first o all, i want to thank you for your service. i cannot believe what you all went through in the vietnam war for us, so thanks for everything you have done. pedro just asked about the level of preparation. we do have a lot of preparation. we go through training while we are deployed, while we are obviously in preparation prior to being deployed, while we are deployed, and then before coming back home. if we spend the energy to take care of all of our soldiers from the youngest to the oldest, to help them get settled back
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in -- we have a lot of programs focused on families of service members. but mostly what i think people need is just support. they need to be able to support each other in a unit and obviously get the support from everybody in their community back home. and through organizations like the one you just described, which i think would be very helpful. one quick advertisement -- if anybody out there wants to know what is going on in iraq, you can jump on facebook. we have a united states forces in iraq specific site, an official site. we also have a site that some of our junior troops, called boots in the sand, an opportunity to look at things from a soldier's point of view. we will do our best to keep you informed. host: major general jeffrey
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buchanan joins us from baghdad. thank you for your time today, sir, and happy memorial day. coming up next, we are going to switch gears and look at afghanistan with an update for some major general james mallory, with the nato training mission in afghanistan, at a deputy commanding general. he serves with the army. he will join us for an update after this update from c-span radio. >> get caught 32 eastern. on this month -- 8:32 a.m. eastern. president obama and first lady michelle are starting their day by hosting a breakfast for families of those who have lost loved ones in combat. later they will travel to arlington national cemetery, where the president will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. troops in afghanistan's for a moment yesterday to remember the 1400 comrades killed -- troops in afghanistan paused for a
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moment yesterday to remember the 1400, that's killed. general dempsey will need senate confirmation to take the position of joint chiefs of staff. c-span will give you live coverage of the rose garden ceremony today. the navy secretary is weighing in on women in the military. the secretary says there should not be any career that is closed off to women. though the last 10 years of war have put women into new and riskier rolls across the military, there are still some doors that are closed. chief among those are the special operations forces. the secretary went on to say that more women are now working with special operations forces in support roles, and he does not rule out that a qualified
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woman can eventually become an elite commando, but he added it will take some time. the space shuttle endeavour has left the international space station and is headed home. nasa policy on this shuttle is due back in florida early wednesday. its next thspot after that will be a museum in california. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> sunday on "in depth," the balance between security and liberty and the limits of international law. your questions for author and university of chicago law professor eric posner. he will take your calls, emails, and tweets live on sunday, on c- span2's "booktv."
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>> rebecca mckinnon on "the communicator's." >> you have an explosion of networking sites and a lot of blocking going on. at the same time, the government manages to control it well enough to prevent people from using the internet to organize an opposition. >> tonight on "the communicator's," on c-span2. >> the c-span video library makes it easy to follow campaign 2012. all searchable, shareable, and free. it is washington your way. >> "washington journal" continues. host: now we will get an update on operations in afghanistan. joining us is major-general james mallory, with the nato training mission. he is the afghan deputy
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commanding general for the army. first off, there are reports in the united states talking about two and attempted suicide bombings in afghanistan, some dealing with the work of security forces. can you give us an update? guest: well, every day here we face the threat of suicide bombings because it is essentially the last strategy that the taliban has. they have failed in their attempts to take territory, having been ejected from considerable amounts of territory that they traditionally controlled. they have not been able to mount any kind of conventional force attacks, to retake those territories, so they are resorting to those actions to get as big a bang for the buck as they can, to strike some terror into the hearts of
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people. host: as far as the afghan security forces are concerned, how prepared are they as of today to withstand these attacks and fight against the taliban? guest: well, the afghan national security forces are now a robust force, both of the police and the army. they have a very deep bench. they can absorb losses and continued to march in terms of defending the sovereignty, integrity of this country. host: as far as the taliban is concerned, have a managed to infiltrate members of the security force? one story said one of the bombers was wearing a police uniform. guest: there have been very few instances of actual taliban infiltration.
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that is a deliberate process of putting agents in place. most of the time, it is an impersonation of an officer or an afghan soldier, and they try to obtain access to a base and attack a very soft targets such as a hospital or a bank. as you said, they are trying to simply sow some terror, and that is the only option it appears they have left at this time. host: as far as training is concerned, how much has been invested in the afghan security forces, and can they stand on their own? guest: the afghan security forces, in late 2009, stood at about 200,000. our forces, as you know, surged 30,000 over the last year and a half, and everyone knows that
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30,000 additional investment the united states has may come in addition to coalition allies who have also stepped up to the plate. but what is not really understood or given a lot of play is that during that same time the afghans themselves stepped up to the plate, and they more than doubled down on our investment. they have grown an additional 90,000 forces, close to 290,000 at this point and are on the way, we believe, to an improved growth figure of about 352,000, wants that figure is approved by the international community. we believe that that number is sufficient to be able to provide a robust and and during capability, -- and enduring capability, to provide for both the army, the police, and their air force.
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host: 202-624-1111 for democrats. -- delta, alabama, on our independent line. you're up first. go ahead. caller: general, can you hear me? host: go ahead, sir. he can hear you. guest: good morning. caller: two retired colonels, friends of mine at fort hope, working with special ops -- one of them showed me some type of work, a guy who had been in two years, a guy who had been in a in battle over one year -- in a
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little over one year. the guy who had been in over two years could hardly do his paperwork. it came up -- a position came open for a noncommissioned officer, and they gave it to the guy who was in for two years. who was the best leader? why did the guy who could not lead get it over a guy who could lead? host: major general, go ahead. guest: i was a little unclear over whether you were talking about an afghan nco or a u.s. nco, but i believe it was in noncommissioned officer in the afghan army. let me first address the issues that we had when we started to really plays a lot of attention on building this force. what we found was the greatest % of thee is that 85 percen
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enlistees are absolutely illiterate. they could not write their name, they could not count to 10. you can imagine the difficulties practically speaking in terms of training when you tell a soldier to take out three rounds to load into a magazine on the range, and he does not know what 3 is. it also created a situation where young soldiers and police officers could be taken advantage of because they did not know how much they were being paid and it would be easy to skim off the top of that. so one of the first initiatives that we took in 2010 was to introduce mandatory literacy training. the results of that are that at the conclusion of basic training, almost 85% of those
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who graduate can read and write umeracy skill level of the first grade. that does not sound like much, but that means they can write their name, do basic math. to understand how much they're being paid. with that basic level of education, that is really a precondition to professionalizing the force, and that is what we're doing right now. the afghans have answered the call. they are enlisting the rate -- they are enlisting at the rate of almost 6000 a month. in fact, we turn away 10% for failure to meet basic entrance criteria. as a result, that education is providing the baseline for future professional as asian.
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you talk about -- for future professionalization. you talk about noncommissioned officers. it is based on a solid noncommissioned officer corps. today, in order to be promoted to noncommissioned are officer in the afghan army, instead of being a selected -- instead of being selected for promotion locally, they have to attend and nco school. level of education at that stage has to be of third grade. it is the key to not only developing the leaders in the future, but also the specialty skills logisticians and
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communicators, engineers, maintainers, transporters, all of those specialties necessary to sustain an army and police force over the time in the field. host: potomac, maryland, independent line. caller: thank you for taking my call. my question is, in the afghan army, is the army representing a well-balanced ethnic force of tuns and others? also, how will the army be sustained by the economy after isaf forces leave? guest: those are two excellent
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questions. first, in regards to the ethnic balance, the army and the police take great pains of achieving ethnic balance in their force. what they are creating through the army is a national institution, and it reflects in terms of recruiting the appropriate ethnic balance. it is not perfect. for instance, while there are the appropriate number of pashtuns, roughly 44%. there is an imbalance with less than half southern pashtuns. now that the taliban have been ejected in many of those areas, we are starting to see increases of southern pashtun recruitment.
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there are still some imbalances in terms of the officer corps, which are somewhat heavily weighted towards tajiks and uzbeks. a lot of that is based on simple access to education. during that 10-year period from the early 1990's through the end of the taliban era, there was essentially no significant public education in afghanistan. in fact, when the taliban were overthrown in 2002, there were about 800,000 children in schools. today, by contrast, there are over 8 million in school. that is a tenfold increase. what it shows you is that for the age group that we are recruiting against, there is a deficit, a lost generation sort
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of moving through the pipeline. that is why that literacy training is so important that the army and police are providing, because it addresses an education deficit. we think it has the potential to really be a game changer for this society because those soldiers and police officers, whether they stay in the armed forces or the police when they return to their villages, they are now educated, they become leaders in their community. they have a big-picture view of afghanistan because, as they have served in their army and their police force, they have come in contact with other ethnic groups and really formed a bond of what it is to be an afghan, not just a tajik or pashtun, so that sense of
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national identity is very much emphasized and is seen in the operations in the field. in terms of your second question about the sustainability in the afghan economy, we have a couple of initiatives that we call afghan first. the army and the police generate among themselves a significant demand for uniforms and boots and other equipment. so that is a demand signal in and of itself. and rather than import -- very expensively, i might add -- from other nations in the region those items, we have encouraged them to be produced locally to employ afghans, to employ women, to be able to supply the needs of the army and police force as they go forward. so that is a continuing process
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of building the economy, and i can tell you, from having observed the level of economic activity in afghanistan a couple of years ago in comparison to what it is today, in virtually the entire country, you see a very strong entrepreneurial spirit here. small shops are opening up on the side of the roads, large glass-front buildings being built in kabul. people do not invest in glass buildings unless they have some confidence about the security and stability and the positive outlook in the future for their economy. host: one more call. fort worth, texas, republican line. troy, good morning. caller: thank you, commander
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general, for taking the time to speak with us. i was wondering if you could take the time to speak about the morale of troops in afghanistan. the department of homeland security is calling returning veterans the biggest threat. guest: well, of course, the primary reason that we came to afghanistan was to eject al qaeda and to remove a fertile place for terrorists or extremist organizations to be able to recruit, train, plan, and execute attacks against the united states, our people, as well as the people of the rest of the world. and so when the morale is looked at for troops here in afghanistan, it is high. the reason it is high is because we can see that the
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afghan people themselves are willing to pay the price and step up to the plate to make the sacrifices necessary to defend their own country and to be able to reach some accommodations with those who have been outside the political mainstream, to bring them in so that they can recover a society that really existed more than 30 years ago as a developing country that was sidelined and sidetracked and became of the wellspring of extremism. they do not want that any longer, and they are willing to step up and pay with their sons and daughters to accomplish that goal. host: major-general james mallory joining us from
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afghanistan. he is with the nato training mission, afghanistan commanding deputy general army. thank you for your time, and happy memorial day. we are going to continue our conversation about afghanistan. joining us here, brian katulis with the center for american progress, serving as their senior fellow. we started our conversation with the major general about twith te suicide bombings over the last day or so. what does that say about security forces in afghanistan with the taliban at the front of this? guest: since we introduce more troops in 2009, there have been security gains, but the country remains deeply insecure, particularly in relation to these types of attacks. there is a deep worry among policy makers about the possibility of infiltration among the security forces because there has been a series of attacks not only in recent weeks but over the last few months, where individuals gain access to key locations, the
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ministry of defense and kabul. there was an incident over the weekend where someone wearing an afghan security force uniform infiltrated and killed individuals. so this is the deep concern not only in afghanistan but in pakistan as well where there was a major attack last weekend at a naval base. that is a country with nuclear weapons. so there is a deep concern that even though we have seen overall security, these targeted suicide attacks will remain and it may be a last shot of desperation by some of these militant groups. we need to see how it unfolds. host: is their concern about the security forces joining them in complicity, as far as the two working together? guest: there is some concern. just again, as a last ditch effort, because a lot of these groups in the taliban, not just
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a single organization, but a series of networks. there are clear signs that they are trying to do whatever they can to initiate high-profile at tax to garner the attention in the media and stir up -- high- profile attacks to garner the attention in the media and stir up potential gains. what will remain and what will endure over the last couple of years? host: what in terms of stability? guest: it starts with whether the afghan security forces will join in the fight and will stay. that is the first building block. there is a bigger building block which i think it's much more difficult to answer the question. this effort to build security forces has cost u.s. taxpayers about $10 billion in one year alone. this is a country whose government budget is about $3
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billion to $4 billion each year. when you have a security effort that is two times to three times the afghan local national government, it leaves a question as to how well they will be able to sustain themselves. granted, we are trying to help them ramp up pretty second metric is the political power- sharing issues between the afghan government leaders. in this instance, there has been progress on the security front. there are still serious questions about whether the afghan government, from the national government to the provincial and local levels, will be able to provide services to its citizens. u.s. taxpayers will be paying $120 billion in a country whose gdp is anywhere from $20 billion to $30 billion. those security measures are very important to keep an account. host: if you want to talk about current efforts in afghanistan
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with our guest, brian katulis -- host: what is the relation between the ability of the afghan security forces and president obama's desire to see troops out by 2014? guest: there is an interplay here. we need to hand over responsibility to the afghan government. there is a strong relationship there because if we are not sending the signal of some sort of end point to the mission, there is an issue of motivation among the leaders. if we are going to stay there -- a big part of what their task
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is to get others to pull their weight, and in this case it is the afghan soldiers and police. i think that is signaling of a timeline -- i think that's a billing of a timeline is essential to the task because it can lead to -- i think that signaling of a timeline is essential to the task because i think at this phase we are trying to help them build up and offer support. part of that offering support is to motivate them with a deadline that says you are taking a lead by 2014. some would argue we can pull that date closer to 2014 to increase the motivation, and that is part of the policy and political debate here. a big part of it is how do we get the afghans to stand up. host: california, democrats line. go ahead. are you there? california, one more time. let's go to new orleans, louisiana, independent line. frank, the morning. caller: good morning, sir. i have been listening to your
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show, enjoying it quite a lot. but the pashtuns after the ottoman empire were left without a state, and no one brings up the fact that pakistan -- what is part of pakistan and what is part of india is their tribal land, and they will always want that. there will never be peace there, and they make up the largest group. when the united states goes, the area will be right back into civil war. guest: frank, a lot of the history that you mentioned is true, not only for pakistan and afghanistan but part of the middle east, too. the borders that were drawn that consisted these current countries were largely drawn by colonial powers.
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i do not know if i agree with your prediction because i do not know if anyone knows where afghanistan and pakistan will be headed. but it points to the fact that the porous border between afghanistan and pakistan has been a big security challenge. some of the key fighters that we are trying to take down in our military efforts have a safe haven in pakistan. admiral michael mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, went before some of them -- went over to pakistan and said we had evidence that some of your security forces so this is part of the struggle. i think what you highlight, the borders are not much of a border because they are porous. host: cleveland, ohio, republican line.
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caller: hi. host: let's move on, austin, texas, democrat. caller: thanks for c-span. thanks to your guests for being here on this day. i am a naturalized u.s. citizen, born and raised in pakistan half of my life. this constant beting of pakistan and its intelligence service -- beating of pakistan. 30,000 pakistanis have lost their lives and even more soldiers. it's a complicated picture.
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i just think that the constant accusations about pakistan are not serving our purpose in the long run. pakistan is there. afghanistan is there. those countries are not going away. we need to engage pakistan in a better way than we have. in certainly the past year or so. host: wonderful comment -- guest: wonderful comment. i have been to pakistan several times. there are many middle-class pakistan and that what security, a decent government, and the what the number of things. what we need to do -- and i think the obama administration has attempted to do --which is to reach out to those particularly wanting democracy and better economic growth and development. i completely agree that there has been a dominant narrative of is a problem with pakistan and not much to work with. we need to also discuss what we can work with. we also should not ignore what is very clear evidence of
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support for militant networks that have attacked the united states and have attacked countries like india. we need to keep our eyes open about the opportunities that exist, but also the real threat in a country that now today has more than 100 nuclear weapons. host: what is on top of the list of what we can work with? guest: we need to look at the civilian government in pakistan, which is largely based on a democratic election. i was there in 2008 for those elections. quite impressive to look at the level of debate. some of the leaders don't rise to the challenge, the problems that the country has in pakistan. there's possibilities for economic growth in pakistan. a country of 170 million people, which gives it a population larger than russia. they're educated slices of the population. there are opportunities to work
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with. but this country has a lot of problems with a poor underclass and poor governance. i would focus more attention in addition to all the security measures we are trying to do, because those are the most urgent, and we don't want another attack -- 30,000 pakistanis killed in terrorist attacks there. a big part of it is trying to help boost the civilian government to make it more responsive to the needs of the people. host: how much of our success in afghanistan is going to be tied to our relationship with,' hamid karzai's government? guest: there's a real problem of legitimacy and the legitimacy of his leadership, because these elections were very corrupt. a lot of problems with that. a big part of that challenge when it comes to sustainability is what we have a partner -- is
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whether we have a party. people talk about the counterinsurgency attempt. it is heavily dependent on whether the leaders themselves are seen as legitimate in the eyes of their own people. 10 years down the road, that is still a very open question. host: bastille, tennessee its next. national,nks to ta -- tennessee is next. caller: how do you guys determine who a citizen is who has the right to defend themselves in the middle east in pakistan or afghanistan? how do you determine --why we have our second amendment rights to defend ourselves from an out- of-control government. it seems we are going house-to- house and if you have a gun or weapon, we take your weapons and your way to defend yourself from
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a government away from you. therefore, our government can and in certain other dictatorship to control that region. that's what i think this war is all about, because it should not take 10 years to catch one man. host: thank you. guest: i think the question points through the difficult nature of this type of war in afghanistan, which is is hard to understand who is on which side. you see incidents where you had a number of civilians killed in the nato air strike this weekend, including children and women. what i understand is that there were a number of insurgents firing on u.s. soldiers or nato soldiers and then they found a home that had family spirit the nature of this war is very difficult to sort out here there's a bigger question we should be asking ourselves as americans, what is necessary to keep americans say from another attack? what is necessary to prevent recreations of what we saw
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before 9/11 in afghanistan? this is a question that i think even the obama administration is wrestling with. they have a clear goal, to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat outside in afghanistan and pakistan, but they don't have and a definition of what we need to leave behind. al qaeda affiliate's in yemen are a much bigger threat to the homeland and our homeland security over there. we need to have a constant assessment of where resources are needed. host: you took questions on the u.s. or in the house last week with the defense appropriations committee. specific comments made on afghanistan. i want you to listen and give a breakdown of the arguments being made. >> this engagement in afghanistan is not strengthening our military. americans are paying a big price their. we want to make sure we are getting a return on that
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investment and time is a very important factor. it is time for our troops come home. >> time lines undermine their efforts. it discourages your friends, because they know you're not going to be there very long. it encourages your enemies, because that helps them plan their assaults against you. and it ensures that anybody on the fence headed their beds because they know you're not going to be around very long. host: brian katulis, an antic szollosi spoke about the strengthening of the military in relation to what is going on in afghanistan. guest: she has a fair assessment. we have people who have served five tours of duty. we have been at war nearly 10 years. this is a deep sacrifice not only on the part of those members of the armed services but their families. it is a sacrifice that is largely borne by those families, because we are essentially at war and we are not paying for
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it. we are buying or rather we are borrowing a lot of money. a lot of people don't feel festive on memorial day. they don't deeply feel it in a way is military families do. congresswoman nancy pelosi is stressing something important, but there are real steps out there. that's one part of the talent, making sure we are striking the right balance with the military, not wearing them down, because it is the finest military the world has ever seen. but there's a balance of do we have the resources in the right places. we may be over-invested in afghanistan. i was in support of the obama administration's efforts to shift resources from iraq to of afghanistan. now i think we need to think about either drawing down and bringing troops home or whether there are other places where we need to help provide assistance to meet the terrorist challenges. host: a representative talks
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about the time line and what happens on the ground game in afghanistan. betsy has a legitimate perspective, but you have to weigh that argument because he says time lines are not helpful because they signal to the enemy versus the simple fact that if we don't have some sort of closed-end commitment, rb fostering a dependence on the united states, a and dysfunctional and costly dependent on the u.s. and it poses a challenge for others to pull their weight. host: independent line. caller: what's going on in afghanistan is only one bird in the tower of corruption, greed, and hypocrisy -- only one brick. and in the american military system. host: paula, i apologize, it was breaking up. now, to maryland, democrats line, francine.
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caller: how successful have we been in disrupting the huge amount of money that is coming in from saudi arabia into those countries? we seem to make such an exception where the oil- producing nations in holding them accountable -- with the oil-producing nations. can you give an assessment of how that might hurt our war effort regarding the cost of this war? guest: great question. the financing of terrorist networks and networks like the taliban is a key part of what we want to break down. your question on saudi arabia and other gulf countries, i think there has been a much more concerted effort to try to break down any sort of clothes that goes specifically to terrorist networks.
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the bigger challenge is particularly with pakistan, you have 3 million or 4 million pakistani working in gulf countries who send remittances back to their families. it is hard to track these private flows. but i think there is an effort to find out where the funding is going. we can look at where our own u.s. taxpayer money is going. last year there were two reports, one from the house and the other from the senate, but argued u.s. taxpayer money was going to fund protection rackets for the supply lines. a lot of our supply lines go through pakistan and afghanistan to make sure our troops have gas, food, all the things they need to live and help fight. we saw we have hundreds of thousands of dollars perhaps going to the same people that we are trying to defeat on the battlefield, which does not make much sense to me. that money is going to try to protect the supply routes.
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that's not a constructive way to fight the fight. there's an effort to cut down the financing, but it has not been fully realized. host: where are we in talks with the taliban? guest: it is fully underway, as i understand, some components of the taliban. as been contacts and meetings hosted by the german government. michael steiner, their lead on this, has taken a step forward. the taliban isa decentralized taliban criticsia -- the taliban is a decentralized network. it seems to me that one of the .roup's have had contacts a fundamental part of the challenge is moving towards
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reconciliation effort, is not like there are clear battle lines. it's not clear who is on which side. this is the year reconciliation oracle an attempt at power- sharing in the lead up to another conference later this year. >> alan and on the republican line. caller: thank you so much. and thanks for c-span. i want to expand our troops and our military -- thank our troops and our military. i don't hear anyone say this, but the american military has done the most impossible pan. impossible thing. wars with less than 15,000
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people dead. the thing that i want to say about afghanistan is, as a republican and as an american, they lost me. the military lost me as an individual when two things happened. they never burn down the poppyseed its, first of all. and when you have that much corruption and that much money funding everything to go against our american troops, they lost me. guest: first, i fully agree with you in terms of honoring our military. when i see them in theater and we ask young and women to do almost impossible, we asked them engaged in combat and willing to kill the enemy and the next moment to be like a social worker, killed themselves and build themselves. they do amazing things. on the poppyseed and the drug
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traffic, afghanistan still after considerable efforts by the u.s. and nato, remains one of the largest heroin producers in the world. the largest. it's a big problem. some people have espoused efforts to burn the poppy seeds. the downside to that is it runs up the price. it increases the price and the demand is still there. this is a big problem that was addressed about two years ago in our debate, but we have not reassessed where things stand. i think the reassessment would find that it is a very incomplete effort. a lot of the money that comes from drug traffic that comes out of afghanistan feed this insurgency that is killing our own troops and killing our effort. i think we need to refocus on how to make sure particularly those in the afghan government are not benefiting from this and how do we find the corrupt
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networks that exists still some in the government and outside the government that facilitate this. host: did we not trying to pay zero producers not to produce opium? guest: it goes back to the question of sustainability and whether we are paying for this transfer. how sustainable will it be a long run if heroin is in high demand. you might take the payment for a couple of years as a farmer. if we drawdown operas, then wal -- then what? we have increased the amounts of money. down, then what?s caller: i would like to respond to the last guy.
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i wanted to say something about, do you know if other countries are involved in trying to help police afghanistan? maybe england. and the last comment about the poppyseed, why doesn't mr. hamid karzai -- they say that he is crooked -- why don't you get machinery to cut that down? guest: arthur other countries involved? yes, at least four dozen other countries are part of the isaf /nato coalition, 48 countries involved. the u.s. is bearing most of that burden. we have about 100,000 troops. if you add up the other troops, it's about 30,000 or 40,000. it shifts a lot. a number of countries are planning to leave. there are 48 countries normally involved in separate, but u.s.
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taxpayers are bearing most of the burden. we have key allies like britain and austria and germany involved in their effort. it's hard to run by committee. the other question, back to the poppies, is a key part of the talent. i think there are questions therehow well we have rooted out those corrupt networks in the afghan government and now 10 years later, we have to make sure we are not using our power against ourselves and making sure the issue of corruption and corrupt leaders and black of legitimacy in afghanistan are addressed, in addition to building security forces. host: what short-term and long- term benchmark should we be looking at? guest: the number one benchmark from u.s. national security interest is wiped threat is presented by the global terror networks that operate in afghanistan and pakistan?
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i think we will see there are much more imminent threats in yemen and somalia. we often lose sight of that. we are there in large part because of the 9/11 attacks. we have lost sight of that going into the trenches. second, in terms of what we need to leave behind in terms of dismantling al qaeda in pakistan, we need a much more thorough assessment of not only the security forces and how much that will cost to build, but how are the army and police in afghanistan connected to governing structures that can function after we leave? that requires self-funding and sorts of things. what we do not want to do is to create another dependency that is very expensive, that at a time when on capitol hill we are debating oil and gas, we don't want to dig ourselves deeper in that whole if afghan officials are wasting our money.
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,ost: he's a senior fellow thanks for your time and have a good memorial day. guest: thank you. host: we will look at the highway trust fund, gas taxes are used to fund construction projects. that's after this update from c- span radio. >> as the 2012 presidential election approaches, reports today showed the number registered democrats has fallen in key states carried by president obama in 2008. that's florida, pennsylvania, north carolina, iowa, and nevada. several states with republican governors are trying to reduce the number of early voting days and are requiring poteau id to vote. some democrats say that is aimed at disenfranchising poor and minority voters. germany pose in burma's minister speaking earlier today says the coalition government has agreed to shut down all the country
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oppose nuclear power plants by the year 2022. making it the first major industrialized powers to go nuclear-free since the japanese disaster. the oldest reactors have been taken off the grid pending safety inspection and will now remain offline promote it. the country has 17 reactors in all. medical experts say that a growing shortage of medication for a host of illnesses from cancer to cystic fibrosis to protect arrest is troubling. there are lots of causes from the cost of factory shutdowns. a problem is not new. it is getting markedly worse. the number of drugs listed in short supply has tripled over the past five years to a record 211 medications last year. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> sunday, the balance between security and liberty, the difficulties of a climate change
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treaty, and the limits of international law. your questions or author and university of chicago law professor of eric posner. his books include "law and social norms" and "the perils of global legalism." he will take your questions live on sunday. >> new america foundation senior fellow rebecca mackinnon, on the effects of the internet on free- speech in areas like china and the middle east. >> on the one hand, you have an explosion of internet usage, you have all kinds of social networking web sites and a lot of blogging. at the same time the government controls it well enough to prevent people to use the internet well enough to organize an opposition. >> that's tonight on c-span 2. washington journal continues. host: fawn johnson for national journal joins us. she is there correspondent.
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if you are filling up your tank with gas, what should those people and about the gas tax that is involved in every gallon and how much its ads to doing road projects and infrastructure projects? guest: the first thing to remember is the gas tax has been in steady since 1993, the federal gas tax. any fluctuation that you see is not due to that. it's about 30% of gas taxes, depending on the price of gas. the federal gas tax is 18.3 since. -- cents. it's about 20 cents on average added on to that from the state's. it is a significant chunk, but it is not what causes your gas prices to go up and down. the money goes into the highway trust fund, which is supposed to pay for your roads and road
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construction and bridges and all the things that allow you to drive. host: if 18 cents goes from gasoline, 24 the canucks since because of diesel -- 24 cents for diesel and so on, that would people pay as far as their share per gallon? guest: yes, and the ideas you want to able to pay for the roads you are driving on. i started0's when this, they felt the people driving cars should pay for the roads. our questions now about whether that still works. we have a lot more fuel- efficient cars these days. some people are concerned that it is disproportionately affecting rural drivers. there are other ways to pick about how they might pay for highway systems. the idea is if you drive, you
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should pay for the roads. host: as the gas taxes stand, do they provide enough funds to pay for these projects that need to be done? guest: they do not appear that the big question in washington today. it depends on who you talk to, the shortfalls. some of the bigger estimates have it over the next 20 years there will be a shortfall of $135 billion or more. part of the problem is gas is more expensive and the gas. tax remains the gas cars are getting more fuel- efficient. there's less gas being purchased, so less money going into the trust fund. the spending has outpaced -- the amount of money you need to maintain the highways is not quite there that comes from that. but the last couple years, $35 billion has come from the federal treasury, but taxpayers pay for the
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highways. >> was the common type of repair work and needs to be done on the highways? guest: everything. they need regular maintenance, especially if there are heavy trucks on it. there's noise congestion and there's accidents. and just your basic -- it does put a stress on the roads to have people driving on it. that is just maintenance. and there's problems of trying to construct new roads or new lanes or that kind of thing. the other important thing is only 40% or so of the money that goes for highways actually comes from the federal government. the rest of it is state and local funded. it is a real combination of the government giving loans and grants to the states and there are few product with
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congress's you will build this road is bridge, and the rest of it is very state and local- based. a direct relation --people have studied this --if the federal government is spending more on your highways, your state will probably be spending a little less. host: fawn johnson talking about the gas tax and highway trust fund. if you want to ask a question, here is how to do so. the numbers are on the screen. if there are higher gas prices, aren't people going to buy less gas, which means you get last's gas tax revenue? guest: not necessarily. that is one of the interesting things about gas use.
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the price hasn't been up a lot for a long amount of time before people start changing their behavior. most oil analysts say it is six months the guest price has to be really high. we are talking $4 or $4.80 a gallon for a long time before people actually start postponing a vacation or deciding to take the train or biking to work or whatever they decide to do. the difficulty with that is most gas fluctuations only last a few months, so people panic, and especially in washington they panic even more. and then eventually comes down. give it another six months and we see people start to ask going to be long and the alter their behavior. there's always got to be a demand there. that's one of the reasons why the prices go up and down. basic economics. host: drivers all across the
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board are not spare the gas tax, whether it be a truck driver for his business or a personal commute. guest: that's right. as a diesel tax which is a little more than the actual fuel tax. and then there are percentages. 65% in the highway trust fund, this is federal funds, that comes from cars that you and i drive. and the diesel tax is another 24 cents. and then you pay tax because you have a truck. it varies. they're trying to spread it out because trucks cause more damage on highways than mine does. are there formulas in place, because a state like texas may meet more demand as opposed to the iowa? guest: yes, and that becomes a huge political debate almost immediately. the way that the federal
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spending is distributed is based on a formula where the state's receive a certain percentage no matter what. there are some states that are considered donor states because those are the states that put more money in based on their taxes or revenue from their citizens and the state's that are day give states. this turns into a -- almost immediately -- a huge political battle. some people would say the formula is not fair. they do not typically get. -- they do not typically get rid of it. some states need a certain amount of money to able to maintain a highway even if there are only 1200 people in the state. host: the first call comes from
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austin, texas, frank on the democrat line. caller: i am not a democrat, but that was the first number that answered the call. you seem to forget 12% of the highway tax dollars are for side roads, trails, motocrosses, or what have via. -- what have you. host: we will leave it there. make sure that you choose a line that best represents you. guest: sidewalks count, runways count, train rails, that's all part of the transportation system. you want to fix it, hold just as much as you want to have a caurb on the sidewalk. that's true, but remember it's
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only 20% of the federal funds are dictated by congress. most of the rest of this from your state legislature so they can decide what is the most important. host: florida, good morning, bo on the agenda -- bob on dethe independent line. caller: who pays for lighting and sign it on the roads? guest: a lot of that would be from your local communities. there's the federal amount of money, 80% that goes to the states in the form of grants where they can decide their priorities. then you have the state money and supplements that. and then you have the local money. so the decisions about sign it and about lighting and those kinds of things, those are probably made -- the state is
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not in charge of that, so it would be a local decision. host: cleveland, ohio, republican line. caller: this mean gas prices are not going to be driving anytime soon? guest: you probably would want to talk to an oil industry experts, but i think it is a to say that this summer we will still see high gas prices. it is a natural fluctuation. gas prices were around $3.50 a gallon in february and it was not hard to say that by memorial day the prices would be a little higher. they always rise in the summer. the standard pattern is somewhere around three months to four months where you have a higher gas tax and then it smells out. even though, i am not an energy industry analyst and they would have a lot of different answers for you. host: is their ebullition between the stimulus money and
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the gas tax? will pay for the tax guest: no, the stimulus money has helped in times of maintenance that we need. a gas tax remains the same during the highway trust fund remains the same. the money that came from the stimulus was intended to add on top of that. host: how much is the highway trust fund? guest: we spend about $40 billion annually from the federal highway trust fund and about $30 billion of that goes to highways. the rest of it is devoted to mass transit. that is one of the issues that we want to be able to be developing other ways of commuting. we spend $150 billion annually on highways. you can see the the federal share is less than half. if you are looking through the projections, it is probably about $120 billion or so if we
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maintain the current level of maintenance now for the next 10 years. if we just stay where we have been for the last year, about $85 billion. the transportation department has done a study and they said if they were to induce congestion pricing which is charging people for driving during peak contestant time and other situations like that, that reduces the wear and tear on the roads because it causes people to alter their behavior is more quickly and gas prices would. -- peak congestion timees. we go from something like $120 billion up to $85 billion.
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the cars still cause wear and tear on the roads. caller: if your desk could help explain, in august of 2008, oil was trading at $146 a barrel and gas was roughly $4.10 or less. now it's $105 a barrel and it is $4. what is going on? it cannot be big oil. that: i think it's big oil causes the change in prices of gas. one of the things i've thought was fascinating when i was researching for the show, the federal trade commission did a study a couple years ago trying to determine whether there was anything that was shifting the price of gas beyond just the
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price of crude oil. even the federal trade commission, whose job is to make sure that consumers are not being bilked out of anything, said that most of the price fluctuation was due to appear market forces, supply and demand. keep in mind that opec produces 43% of the world's crude oil. they are the ones that have the control over at least the supply. there's other supply chains, but it's not going to make a big difference in terms of its you have that much of a market share being offered by it. so it's hard to say if there's anything else. in washington d.c. there are a lot of politicians who sometimes use the price of gas as a reason to push for their own particular policies. that is a perfectly legitimate thing to talk about. a everybody feels the pain at depaul. all of us do. but it is not as though their policies are going to cause the price of gas to fall. -- everybody feels the pain at
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the pumps. host: is there an effort on capitol hill to change the amount of gas tax and how much of that amount would-be? guest: there's a ban on any conversation about raising the gas tax on capitol hill. it does make sense. it is not the worst idea in the world, but if you are a republican, raising any kind of tax is a sin. but the white house says they don't want to impose a new tax like either. it's off the table as any kind of money raiser to spend on highways. which leaves us in a lurch. there's not a lot of other options available except maybe the general treasury or just letting the highways rust for little while until somebody can come up with a better solution. host: illinois, democrat line,
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steve. caller: you were talking about the gas tax and highway funds. where does all the money go for license plate fees? guest: that would go into your state treasury. that is a state-run program. that depends on where you live. host: redding, pennsylvania on the republican line, david. caller: good morning. what does it cost to pave 1 mile of road compared with 10 years ago or 15 years ago if the gas tax has not increased? the cost of government has increased, does like the cost for the consumer as the products go up. it's easy to say don't raise taxes, but it does not seem practical, because everyone's costs go up, including the federal government. guest: that's right. it depends on the product, how
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much it will cost. the question is not so much how much does it cost to pave a mile of roads, that's not going to change much over the course of the years. it might inflate a little with inflation. but the question is more who is going to pay amdnd how. in the 1950's when it first established the gas tax and highway trust fund, we wanted the users of the roads to pay for this and not the general taxpayer. as it turns out, because there's not enough money in the fuel tax, the taxpayer is also finding that particular resource. it's a big question that becomes what is the most fair way for the entire country to pay for public utility that we all use? host: how is the allocation of federal funds determined?
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guest: good question. attacks on electric cars is not part of the gas tax. that goes elsewhere. -- the tax on electric cars. when it comes to high-speed rail and other kinds of mass-transit, right now we have a share of the highway trust fund to pay for those projects. those go to the states for their own determination. especially in the northeast corridor, that might go towards high-speed rail more so than it would in montana, for example. that is also a subject of debate. one thing to remember is the last time that any of these decisions were made from the capitol was 2005. the bill that made all those decisions on how to distribute the funds happened a couple years ago and the highway trust fund and gas tax have been
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operating on a temporary basis ever since then. those decisions are yet to be made. questions are being asked now by members of congress, particularly republicans in the house would like to see the money that goes into the highway trust fund devoted specifically for highways. then you have democrats who say it would save a lot of congestion and a lot of money and would be a great innovation and investment if we were to invest in high-speed rail. that becomes a political argument quickly that has almost nothing to do economy how much it actually costs to maintain any of these projects. host: now this question from twitter -- guest: it is rare to find any place where the roads and highways are completely privately funded. both the administration and house republicans have sided
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with public-private partnerships. tolls is one way to pay for the roads, the closest thing you can have to a user paying for utility. the problem is it does not always work. particularly in the rural areas. the reality of the situation is in the best possible scenario, only 15% of the actual cost of maintaining the roads and rails can be used from highway money. independent line, california. caller: is it true 70 cents a gas tax goes to administrative and pensions and medical and only 30% goes to actual work? if so, that the big problem. guest: i don't know if that percentage is true.
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some of the maintenance that has to be going through does require people to be paid pensions and health benefits. but the other thing to remember is that anybody who is a government employee is receiving that money from general taxpayer funds. so is not like the person at the state transportation department who is deciding which projects will be worked on that day is being paid from the highway trust fund. so it will depend on how people look at the money. anybody was a federal employee does get paid and they get paid our taxpayer dollars. host: bethesda, maryland, mary on the democrat line. caller: you said you efficiency was a problem. fuel-efficient vehicles are far lighter than many a da cars and trucks you see on the road today. -- you said fuel efficiency was a problem.
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it's not fair that a lightweight -- a gas tax seems to be more equitable. guest: the only problem with fuel-efficient cars is that they do not raise as much money as your standard gas guzzler would for the highway trust fund. from an environmental perspective or any kind of innovation or engineering perspective, those cars are very good. it causes the actual amount of the highway trust fund to be less than you would expect. just to be clear about that. and it is also true that trucks and particularly the big semi trucks cause more wear and tear than your toyota prius or my subaru. a gas tax is fair to the extent that everybody who uses gas, the
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more that you use, the more you pay. it's also true that there's people who use less gas, but they spend more time on the roads. a number policy makers in washington talk about different ways of cost saving where you can pay partially through a gas tax, but also through the miles that you travel in a car. it's a high-tech idea that's been floating around a long time. it's not ready to be passed in congress yet. those are the things we are talking about. host: eastern pennsylvania, good morning, sal. hold on. i have to push the button. caller: i think the two biggest things that affect gas prices are the gas tax and the devaluation of the dollar, because the current administration has been printing money like crazy. that is inflating prices all
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around, not just gas prices, but food prices. statistics show that the gas tax actually is more per gallon than the average profits that an oil company makes oft a gallon of gas. the federal government actually makes more money. the does not invest in refining or research and development, in the employees that they hire. i don't know why everybody gets so mad at oil companies. i guess some people have politicized it successfully. guest: you make a good point, caller, in terms of the politicization of this issue. the only thing that needs to be understood is that at least from
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the federal perspective, a gas tax has not changed in almost 20 years. the other thing to remember is that it has been a bipartisan solution ever since it was started. the first person to raise gas taxes after the initial formation of the highway trust fund was president reagan did the next person to raise them was president bush. the next person to raise them was president clinton. and then they stopped. they have not gone up since then. to the extent any of the gas prices have gone upper to the other types of economic situations you mentioned, that particular part of it has remained steady. it is not even been indexed to inflation. it is less of a share than what goes into your price of gas than any of the other factors you mentioned, including the price of the dollar. host: appears an e-mail question --
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guest: i think there is a couple of things to think about in that. i'm not sure that's true. it is true that the amount of money that has byzantinists bent to maintain the votes has been reduced over the years since eisenhower started the system, suspect quality has gone down. technology has changed, is the other point. and the vehicles and changed as well. it is a long path from one restarted first with an international highway system than we are now. the thing -- she is right about the fact that they're not being maintained like they should.
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they come out with studies every year and assay give a "d"when it comes to the maintenance of the infrastructure. -- and they give a when it comes to the maintenance of the infrastructure. it's difficult to vote on the maintenance of highways. you almost have to have a bridge collapse for people to all realize this is spending that is needed. host: joe has this question -- 6, it was 3 cents
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a gallon. that went a lot farther than it does not prevail most immediately raised it to 4 cents a gallon. it has gone up steadily since then in about 5 cents increments. initially when the highway system was first being developed, they did not have the highway trust fund. all of it came from the general treasury. over the course of history there has always been a supplement from taxpayers that has gone into the highway trust fund. host: atlanta, georgia. caller: there was a book on the world oil markets, that would help a lot of these folks who call up and wants to blame this or that. --ht now between $1 and $2
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the young lady on the tv today admitted that maybe you should talk to an industry analyst for this kind of thing. but right now we are all getting played. guest: it is interesting that you mention that. one of the things i find particularly interesting to watch as a person who covers d.c. and congress is that gas prices are like the unemployment rate or jobs. they can be used to advocate almost anything. legitimately, it is an issue that touches a lot of our lives and in a lot of different ways. as environmental constructs. there's the jobs issue appeared as a question about how much tax dollars are being spent. especially when the gas prices start to peak. it happens every year. we start to see members of congress starting to advocate. they will come up with their own
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solutions. republicans traditionally have asked for more drilling inside the u.s. or just off the shores. and you have people cohabitating alternate modes of transportation, saying, take your bike to work and you all spend as much on gas and you will be held here and the world will be a better place. -- and you have people coming up with alternate modes of transportation. these issues could take a long time to resolve. host: another e-mail says wise the tax on diesel fuel more than the tax on gasoline? guest: part of that has to do with these old generally is meant for trucks. those are heavy and they cause more wear and tear on the highways. so they were trying to make it fair. it's not fair. the gas tax might be the most air right now, but --the gas tax
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might be the most fair right now, but it's not entirely equitable. host: kansas city, missouri, good morning, democrats line, dennis. caller: good morning. senator the castle from missouri at a hearing year-ago -- senator mckaskill from missouri at a hearing a year ago said that in the summertime when there is expansion, you are not even getting a gallon gas. guest: that's true. one of the warnings we get when the temperature gets high is that you should pump your gas at night when it's cooler. host: kansas, next with fawn
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johnson. carepublican line. caller: i wish they would take some of the taxes and make high- tech refineries. the refineries are old- fashioned and wasteful. we could put out a thousand times the volume for pennies on the dollar and drive down the gas tax so the taxes would not be a burden on the american people. they're not even think about stuff like this. we can make high-tech fuel where the temperature does not matter and you are getting what you are getting out of a gallon of gas. it's amazing what a high-tech refinery can do. nobody is even on the issue. guest: i would not say that. i think that there are any number of policy makers here in d.c. and around the country spending a lot of time thinking about better ways to refine and
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the different alternatives to it. there's a huge queen jobs movement across the country -- clean jobs. some of the types of innovations the caller mentioned cost a lot of money. one of the things the congressional budget office has talked about in terms of how to fix or what the options we have come one of the options is to invest in projects like fuel refineries or more efficient types of highway systems. the project will return more for the dollar than they put into them, but the problem is that is the most expensive option, because it costs a lot to invest in those kinds of projects. host: is there a general way to describe how other countries tackle infrastructure like roads and bridges compared to ours? you said that we were low on the list as far as how we compare to other countries? guest: i would not say we are
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low on the list. different countries use their transportation money in a different way. i think the problem is the investment the u.s. has been making in its infrastructure has been falling over the last several years. that is a cause of alarm to a lot of people particularly in that industry and the engineering societies particularly get upset about this. what they will do is pick point to places in europe that to invest a little more, but those are also places that are smaller in terms of their size and they have a more robust train system, so that trains will take a lot of pressure off the roads that way. host: detroit, michigan, thanks for holding on. caller: this is mike. i just wanted to correct her.
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number one, we have enough technology -- there's not a rubber tire made that we cannot build a highway out of steel and cement that will not be worn out by rubber tires. that's nonsense to say that. it is all because somebody continues to make money on patching holes here and there. the number one reason i called this because of this -- the people in this country are so in the 1930's agenda and built a corridor that got 140 miles per hour. general motors bought it from the sky and stuck it in the back of a vault somewhere and closed the door on it. -- build a car greatburator


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